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VETERAN broadcaster, actor and comedian,Lawrence Simbarashe, 63, popularly known as Bhonzo by Zimbabwe television viewers and radio listeners has hit the hard times and is wallowing in abject poverty.
Bonzo, who rose to fame through various voice overs, television adverts and acting, earned a decent sum of money to the extent of owing 11 luxury cars, but he is now penniless and showing signs of mental health problems.
For two decades, Bhonzo was the main act in the country’s entertainment industry and one of the most sought after local actors.
The actor made his name in the Timmy naBhonzo ZTV drama series, Heat The Sun television mini-series and films such as The Slit (1996), Jit (1993) and Cry Freedom (1987) as well as Flame (1996).
Together with his former workmate, long-time friend and equally gifted comedian, Timothy Tapfumaneyi, they produced the hilarious Timmy naBhonzo ZTV drama series which became a must-watch programme in most Zimbabwean homes in the 90s.
The veteran actor, who resides in Chitungwiza’s St Marry’s high density suburb, says his misfortunes started in 2012 when his house was burnt to ashes; the property belonged to his parents.
Bhonzo unloaded his woe to NewZimbabwe.com in a recent interview which was a challenge because of his struggle with depression.
“Aaaa mauya, ndatenda asi, uumm, ndanga ndatambura Babamudiki, (you are here, thank you for paying me a visit, but all is no well with me my young brother),” said Bhonzo in a barely audible voice.
“I have not been feeling well for some time now and I do not have money to visit doctors, they (doctors) say I have high blood pressure.
“I have also been to Pentecostal churches seeking spiritual hearing at Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) led by Walter Magaya but chakabuda hapana (to avail).
After these initial remarks, Bhonzo just went quite with his lips shaking.
Still struggling to talk, Bhonzo admitted that he made a blunder when he kicked his first wife and three children out of his matrimonial home.
“Now my kids have grown up and they are living outside the country,” he said.
“But they do not want to hear anything or have anything to do about me, but I am not bitter about that because I messed up big time.”
“I should have treated them better,” added Bhonzo shaking his head.
“I did spend my money on useless things, neglecting my family; I wish I could turn back the years and amend some of the things I have done.”
Asked about his future Bhonzo could only shake his head in despair as numerous attempts to come back with new productions have hit a brick wall because of lack of equipment and poor health.
The comedian said he now sometimes gets by with help from friends and well-wishers who give him food and some money.
Bhonzo joined the ZBC in 1981 in the marketing department.
He later started his acting career with the state broadcaster and went on to earn fame and fortune before the downwards spiral.
To make matters worse for him he said all rights for his television series are with the state broadcaster.
He said he got a once-off payment from ZBC and cannot claim any more money even though the broadcaster sometimes screens his dramas. source-newzimbabwe.